If you have a child with special needs, there are certain steps you must take to ensure that your loved one is cared for over their life time. Various government programs such as SSI, Medicaid, and Medicare may assist with expenses. However, relying solely on these services may not be enough. You must prepare for any and all obstacles that could occur in the future, even after your passing. These seven steps are carefully designed to assist you in your preparation:
Step 1: Find the Right Experts
Find an attorney that specializes in special needs planning, as well as a certified financial planner who has experience in the area.
Step 2: Select the Right Planning Vehicle
Learn how to plan for your child without disqualifying them for government benefits. Options to discuss with an experienced estate planning attorney include a special needs trust or 529 ABLE account.
Step 3: Carefully Select a Trustee
The trustee will control assets in the trust, so you should choose someone you trust. A Trust Company may also be a good option for families who are concerned about management of trust assets.
Step 4: Review your Life Insurance Policy
Review your life insurance policies to check that it does not disqualify your child from government benefits. The worst thing you could do is disinherit your loved one with special needs. Instead, the beneficiary can be a special needs trust that is drafted so it will not disqualify your child from government benefits.
Step 5: Decide how to Split your Estate
A planning professional, such as an estate planning attorney, can help parents work through their options.
Step 6: Write a Letter of Intent
A letter of intent can provide a detailed description of what parents want for their child.
Step 7: Implement your Plan ASAP
Make sure things are not just being talked, but that you work with an estate planning attorney to legally document your decisions. Otherwise, a judge could end up deciding how your estate will be distributed and your child with special needs could be disqualified from governmental benefits.
For more information and resources on planning for your loved one with special needs, browse through our website at specialneedsforum.org.